Link Payola in the A-List Blog World

Added: The following comment is from Guy Kawasaki about this incident, I moved them to the top since it is relevant to the issue – mg

I was given the camera because I am doing a big favor for a photo conference. Arguably, the camera cost me $15,000. I didn’t have to review it. – Guy Kawasaki

I like Guy Kawasaki, I really do, I don’t always agree with him, but I do think he’s a smart man, and a thought leader in the space. That said I do think it pretty unfair that the A-List bloggers in the space get “free gifts” in exchange for blogging about them and Google’s Black Angel of Paid Linking Death never pays them a visit. So sit back and watch as I present my evidence and make my case in Nikon D90 link payola incident.

On September 7th Guy posted an unboxing post about the new Nikon D90 Camera. In his post he mentions in a subtle way that the camera was given to him by Ritz Camera and the 6sight Future of Imaging conference.

Nikon just released the D90. This is the first digital SLR that can shoot movies (as far as I know, anyway)–now you don’t have to carry a digital SLR and a video camera. How cool is that?! My buddies at Ritz Camera and the 6sight Future of Imaging conference made this possible. Click here to buy one from Ritz Camera. Incidentally, I’ll be the first to admit that these aren’t the greatest shots–I had no idea product shots are so much harder than people shots.

For those of you wondering the camera has a retail of $1299 from Ritz Camera.

Think this a fluke, and a one off occurrence, let me go all Columbo on you, and point you in the direction of an amazon kindle post, video and this post on Honda Fit. If you might have been sleeping in math class in high school, when there are three or more data points that line up, that’s what we call a trend.

So Google Engineers, if Guy kawasaki is accepting $1300 cameras in exchange for posts, can we expect you to nuke his PR and rankings the same way you did to pay per post. Is his linking scheme, any less illicit? (That’s google’s definition not mine).

Sure I can hear some of you saying, Gray what’s up with you, you’ve been around the block long enough to know that’s how Public Relations people work, they give celebrities (real life celebrities or fake web celebrities) free gifts in exchange for the wearing, using, mentioning, or writing about their product in a newspaper articles, magazines, or blog posts.

Of course I know that’s how it’s been done in the past, and how it will continue to get done in the future. What needs to happen is Google needs come up with a fair and equally applied policy and stick to it, because the two tiered caste system we have now isn’t working … unless you’re on the “let them eat cake” side of the argument … and we all know how that turned out …

For anyone interested here’s a detailed explanation on how to report paid links if you want to clue Google into this violation of their guidelines …

PS: Don’t be one of those kooky nit pickers who says the pay per post people were getting cash, not merchandise, and it’s not technically the same. I believe in following the rules in the spirit with which they where created, and not getting by on a technicality (which is one of the reasons I dislike lawyers so much). However if Google is going to say that it’s perfectly ok to do it in exchange for products, I’ll be off to start a products for posts service this afternoon …

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